Shellie Wong’s business is booming.
As Valentine’s Day approached this year, the former student said she found a video online that taught her how to make flower balloons – a bouquet of artificial flowers placed inside an inflated balloon – and been inspired to start selling them. She initially balanced the flower balloon business with her day job, but the office work she had to do in her managerial role didn’t match her creative desires. As a result, she said she decided to quit her job and work full-time at her flower balloon business, Flowers by Shellie.
“I think I’m more of a…practical…person, so I was basically looking for a creative outlet,” Wong said.
Initially, Wong said she struggled to get the craft down – her first flower balloon only lasted half a day – but she was excited to keep trying, proud to have a product to show off to friends and family. After her skills developed, she says she started her business on instagram and titled it with his name to give his brand a personal touch. While there was no specific aesthetic in mind when Wong was creating the page besides having bright and happy posts, she said she plans to have a color theme set to her. future to make his account more organized.
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Compared to other florists, Wong said her company stands out because it tailors its balloons to each order, instead of using pre-made arrangements, which means each balloon takes about two hours to make. Customers can personalize the flowers inside each balloon, add a vinyl message and request themed designs, she said, such as those for Easter or Lunar New Year. One such thematic request Wong said he received was from the executive assistant to the vice president of Disneyland, requesting a Disney-themed flower balloon for the theme park’s reopening.
“I was really shocked when I got that phone call, but I was really excited… (to be involved with) Disneyland,” she said.
One of Wong’s first clients, Sean Yun, said he found his social media page while browsing Instagram for a last-minute Mother’s Day gift, which was the first time he had seen a flower balloon. At the time of his order, the business was in its infancy, but he said it was always efficient and friendly throughout the ordering process – which started with an Instagram message and ended with a delivery in person.
A former classmate of Shellie’s, Ellen Wong, also bought a flower balloon for a friend’s birthday present, after finding Shellie’s Instagram through word of mouth. When she purchased her flower balloon, Ellen said the company had more limited options than they do today, with flower balloon size possible and add-ons limited to lights. However, she said the purchase was still enjoyable – the lifespan of a flower balloon is longer than a regular bouquet, and the personalization of the balloon makes it more impactful as a gift.
“Just making (the flower balloon) so much more personalized, I think that’s what makes (Shellie’s product) more special,” Ellen said.
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As her business evolves to attract and meet the needs of more customers, Wong said one of the challenges she faces is brainstorming new ideas to keep her page interesting. She said she is turning to florists in countries like Malaysia and Korea for creative ideas that haven’t been popularized in the United States and is also starting to work with real flowers. To increase her publicity, she said she could transform streaming platforms like Twitch to gain visibility.
One day, Wong said she hopes to become a supplier for florists interested in making their own flower balloons and grow her business enough to employ other people in her own physical store. Although her family members occasionally help lighten her workload, she said the holidays can be an overwhelming time for her business. Despite the stress, she said the thanks she receives after completing an order makes her job worthwhile.
“It’s very gratifying (to hear from clients)…and it makes me feel really good,” Wong said. “I think that’s one of the best parts (of the business).”